If you are a new orchid owner, you might question yourself when you should repot and how do you know if your plant needs repotting. In this article, I will describe what signs to look for.
Usually, orchids, especially Phalaenopsis orchids, need repotting every one to two years. However, sometimes you might need to do this sooner.
Sometimes repotting can save your orchid from dying, sometimes it just needs it to become healthier or to grow bigger.
So, here are few reasons why you should repot your orchids.
Lack of Space for New Roots
As the orchid is growing bigger and bigger, there will be a time when its pot will become too small for its roots.
When the roots are growing out of the pot, they are tightly tangled, or you see that there is too little space for them in the pot, it is for sure time to repot your plant.
Then you should pot in a bigger pot, so the orchid will have enough space for the recent roots but will have enough space for new roots as well.
However, you shouldn’t pot in a bigger pot than the plant itself. A too-big pot’s middle will not dry out and it can cause the roots’ rotting.
Another reason you might want to repot your orchid is that it wants to fall over. As orchids are top-heavy plants and the potting medium with the plastic pot is lightweight, sometimes they fall over and their roots or leaves can break.
To avoid this, you should repot your plants in a bigger pot, also, you can use double potting, to make sure nothing will bump it over.
Too Much Salt
If the tips of your orchid plants’ leaves are getting brown and dry, it usually means that the potting mix has too much salt built up.
With time, fertilizing your orchids will cause the salt to build up. To avoid this, you should flush the salt out of the mix regularly. However, at a point, there will be a need to repot the plants, as the mix will absorb the salt.
Usually, bark absorbs less salt than sphagnum moss, so most people use bark as a potting mix.
However, you can also use inorganic potting mix, like clay pellets, but you have to keep in mind, that these will not only absorb the water and keep the environment moist but will absorb the salt quicker as well.
Inorganic potting mix will absorb the salt quicker than the organic mixes.
Decomposing Potting Mix
Many people use organic potting mix because, as I mentioned earlier, these will absorb the salt later.
However, organic potting mix has a backward as well. This will decompose and if not replaced, can kill your plants by smothering their roots.
If you see that the bark or sphagnum moss (these are the two most popular organic potting mixes) is decomposed, you must take action. Orchids need the air to circulate in their root system, but the decomposed potting mix will not provide this feature.
This is when you should repot your orchid as soon as you can. In fact, you can repot even before the mix is decomposed. If you wait until is broken down totally, that is already too late, because the health of the roots can be damaged.
Maybe you are asking now the question: how do I know if the potting mix is decomposed?
You can check it for example when you are watering your plant. This is the most convenient time for this. If you see that the bark looks like coffee grounds, means that the mix started to break down. Or if you use sphagnum moss, this will become dry and yellow.
Pests or Disease
If you see any signs of pests or disease on your orchid plant, you should take action immediately.
When this happens, doesn’t mean you must repot your plant, but in many cases, the pest or disease treatment is not enough, as the potting mix can keep the bacteria, fungi, and pests “safe” and can reinfect the plant.
I usually treat the orchid first and then repot in a fresh potting mix, and I usually use another pot. If this is not possible for you, then you should treat and wash the old pot before placing the new mix in it.
This will provide a new, healthy and fertile environment for the plants, and they can start to heal and grow new roots and leaves.
If you have more plants in a tray or hanging basket, and you observe that one of them got sick or pests, you should remove it from the other plants. I would suggest changing the potting mix in the whole basket, to avoid the healthy plants getting sick.
After treating the sick orchid, you could put it back to its old place, or just keep it in its new environment with the new potting mix. I would leave it in its new pot, as I don’t want to burden it with so many repotting sessions, especially now that it wasn’t the healthiest.
But keep in mind, you should always consider the type of your orchid as well. As we know, Dendrobiums hate repotting, so when this type needs it, you should be very careful and gentle.
After purchasing or receiving a new orchid, I am always repotting it. I do this because usually, their potting mix is not the best quality.
You should wait until all the flowers die on your new plants, and then you can repot it. You should always use a high-quality potting mix if you want your plant to be healthy and beautiful.
Orchids are plants that can live for many years and bloom at least once a year. If you want your plants to live as long as possible, you should repot them every one to two years, and make sure, you are using a high-quality potting mix.
Now that you know why you should repot your plants, you need just to learn how to repot them.